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Golf

Who will replace Henrik Stenson as Europe’s 2023 Ryder Cup captain?

Henrik Stenson’s departure towards LIV Golf left a void in Europe’s Ryder Cup team, but it will soon be filled as a new captain has already been appointed.

Update:
Henrik Stenson’s departure towards LIV Golf left a void in Europe’s Ryder Cup team, but it will soon be filled as a new captain has already been appointed.
STREETER LECKAAFP

The European Tour needs a new captain for its 2023 Ryder Cup team after Henrik Stenson leaped from that role to LIV Golf, where he has already won the first tournament he has played in. Being a captain in the Ryder Cup means that player will not play in the event, but will have a crucial role in the fortunes of its team through his decisions. The European Tour has found its man again in Luke Donald.

What does a Ryder Cup captain do

Englishman Luke Donald will be Europe’s captain in their quest to regain the title after their hard loss in 2020. Team USA has appointed 46-year-old Zach Johnson as its captain, a two-time major winner who will lead a team with most of the world’s best ranked golfers in it, such as no. 1 Scottie Scheffler. Both of these team captains are Ryder Cup veterans who will use their experience to guide next year’s players through Rome’s course. Johnson took part in five Ryder Cups as a player, while Donald played in four different editions and picked up 10.5 out of 15 possible points.

Donald will be tasked with choosing some of Team Europe’s players, the ones for the spots not given due to ranking, but their criteria for selection has not been made public as of yet. The USA’s team will have six players qualify through ranking and six will be picked by Johnson. The 44-year-old Englishman will also be the one choosing the matchups and who will team-up with whom.

Why Luke Donald

Luke Donald will be the first Englishman to take the captaincy since Nick Faldo in 2008, when Europe lost in Kentucky. Europe is hosting the tournament next year, and they lost 19-9 in Wisconsin under Padraig Harrington as captain, so there’s pressure for Europe to win again, as they have not lost two consecutive editions since 1993.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 29: Luke Donald of England reacts after making par on the eighth green during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club on July 29, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.   Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP
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DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 29: Luke Donald of England reacts after making par on the eighth green during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club on July 29, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==Gregory ShamusAFP

Donald has won every time he’s played in the Ryder Cup (2004, 2006, 2010, 2012), and as a past no.1 ranked golfer in the world, he will command respect from every player in the team. Some other names were floated around after Stenson chose LIV Golf over the European Tour and the Ryder Cup, such as Donald’s past rival and current superstar Rory McIlroy, who would have been the first playing-captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963, when the tournament was still Great Britain against the US.

The European Tour chose a committed golfer who had also been considered before Stenson was named captain. Donald has already expressed his interest in the position and how there would not be problems with him as there were with Stenson. “If I got this captaincy I would live up to my word and see it through,” he said. “Let me put it that way. I wouldn’t be doing a Henrik.”

He also talked about LIV Golf and his personal experience with it, when he was offered a spot to join the announcing crew and not the 48-man playing field. “Turned that down pretty quickly. A little bit of a slight on my game. I know I haven’t played that great, but thanks but no thanks.”

Donald also said he did not understand Stenson’s move, but that he will try to see how they can patch up things between the European Tour and LIV Golf if and when he is announced as captain: “I was surprised that he would put his name forward if his plan was to go to LIV, which, you know, the rumors, and I hate to talk about rumors, but rumors are that he’d been in contact with the rival tours, whatever they were, and he was very interested. And I think everyone knew that, the European Tour knew that. They obviously took his word that he wasn’t going to do it. We all have to sign a clause or contract saying that we won’t have anything to do with (LIV). I’m disappointed, I guess, that he would put his name forward and then go to LIV. I understand certain guys going to LIV, in certain situations in their careers and stuff, that makes sense. But obviously something big to give up”.

When and where is the next Ryder Cup

After the postponement of the 2020 Ryder Cup in the US, which was made up in 2021, the organizers decided to move the next one to 2023 to keep the two-years period between tournaments intact. This time it is coming back to Europe, at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, Italy, already known to be the venue for this Ryder since 2015, between Sept. 25th and Oct. 1st.

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